Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Play of the Week: Eagles vs. Cowboys. Vick to Maclin, Check Mate

One of the more interesting stories last season was the development of Mike Vick as an NFL QB in Andy Reids offence. A challenge facing any QB running a NFL offence is the ability to pick up blitzes and check to the correct play or protection to counter the defence. 

During the 1st drive of the game the Eagles found themselves on the Cowboys 13 yard line with 3rd and 9 to go. On the previous play the Cowboys had blitzed strong safety Gerald Sensabaugh, who had nearly broken up the play.

The Eagles lined up in a trips right formation with tight end Brent Celek lined up to the right of the line and running back LeSean McCoy lined up to the left of Vick in the shotgun. Trips formations are always troublesome for defences to cover and unfortunately for the Cowboys the play they have called really shows against it.

 In the picture you can see the Cowboys secondary has lined up in what appears to be a man coverage scheme, with safety Gerald Sensabaugh (circled in blue) lined up directly over receiver Jeremy Maclin. 

After a hard count by Vick you can clearly see the Cowboys are bringing a blitz from the outside with the corners playing off man coverage. The only unclear part of the picture is the role of the safety, who at the snap of the ball will drop into the middle of the field in a cover 1 look. Vick notices the blitz and can be heard checking “Lucy, Lucy” to call a screen to the left.

After the snap Vick takes a deep drop, which is usually a sign of some form of screen play while the O line stops the feet of the blitzing defenders. Sensabaugh comes off the line of scrimmage unblocked and is only defender in a position to make a play, but Vick side arms the pass below his arm and Maclin has one man to beat for the touchdown.

The O line has stopped the feet of the blitzers enough to let the play develop and release into the secondary. The Cowboys defence is in real trouble now with four offensive linemen about to pave the way for the shift Maclin.

Maclin sets up his blocks well and has a clean run to the goal line, the only defender anywhere close is #93 linebacker Anthony Spencer, but Maclin’s speed is too much for him and he runs into the end zone untouched.

The combination of the Cowboys having to compensate for the trips formation, the over aggressive play calling by Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, the recognition by Vick and the execution of offensive linemakes this play a slam dunk for the Eagles and they score on their first drive for the first time this season.

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